Kathryn CarlsonPosted: October 18, 2013
Kathryn Carlson, fluent Polish speaker, sudoku addict, and proud Wisconsinite, is the mastermind behind Buca Boot. Basically, it’s like a mini car trunk for your bike that locks. I was excited to learn about it, because I can’t count how many times I’ve wished something like this existed. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, she hopes to bring it to the masses early next year.
What do you do?
Over the years I’ve worked in banking, for political campaigns, for a Governor, and now in economic research. Through it all, biking has been the constant.
Right now, my research focuses on commodities, specifically oil. It’s funny — I always have to look up the price of gasoline on Bloomberg because I never buy it. My colleagues find it amusing that such an avid bike commuter covers the oil markets but I just think, “Hey, everybody here wants higher oil prices, just maybe for different reasons.”
Over the last 5 years of higher oil prices, we’ve seen a decrease in car usage and I’ve definitely noticed more bikers on my morning commute. That’s a good thing!
How did the idea for Buca Boot come to you? Was it an ah-ha moment, or a process?
It was both. The ah-ha moment came while I was in grad school in London. It may sound like a ridiculous problem but I was biking to meet friends halfway across London one night and didn’t want to ride in the cute heels I planned to wear at the club. However, I also didn’t want to walk in carrying a bag large enough to fit an extra pair of shoes. I thought, “I really wish I could just leave things on my bike.” I needed a car trunk.
After that first thought, situations would come up almost daily where I’d feel like I really needed that bike trunk. I’d think about it when the forecast called for rain and I was stuck carrying my rain jacket. Or when I was stuck carrying a bottle of wine around all afternoon for a dinner party later that night. Or when I went grocery shopping.
The long process came in figuring out how to get both the security of a lockable trunk and the functionality of my bike basket – I didn’t want to give up carrying capacity of an open container. This took many years.
That might sound surprising, but I ran into technical gotchas around every turn. The biggest challenge was twofold: How to make a hinge and lid system that worked open and closed AND comfortably cleared a bike seat.
Tell me about your design partners
The Buca Boot had to look good. Turns out it’s difficult to make what is essentially a box, look anything nicer than a box, or Rubbermaid container, or a cooler … My designers, Guts & Glory, and engineers, Tomorrow Lab, did a great job with this.
What is one fact most people don’t know about you?
My grandfather bought me my first real bike … I really wanted the Strawberry Shortcake model but he was not one for brands or advertising, so I got one that was blue and yellow with a big banana seat. Turned out, it was great.
What is your current ride?
Right now I’m riding a Specialized Globe Work edition because it is one of the few original women’s frames available. Not a total step-through but it’s easy to get on and off while wearing a skirt, which is my usual attire. Although I’m experiencing some serious bike envy right now after seeing my friend Jess Robertson’s new Linus.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I really want the Buca Boot to make it easier for more people to choose their bikes. While the Buca Boot began as a solution to my own small problem, I’ve realized that it could be so much more. I believe that biking is the best, healthiest and fastest mode of transportation in urban environments. Lots of people agree — that’s why we’re seeing more and more people in cities start biking. But there are still lots of reasons people might never climb on a bike. I’m hoping we can change that!
Ride on, Kathryn